Overqualified Overused? Sunday Coffee Contemplations

Is “overqualified” just an overused excuse by companies to discriminate against older workers? Is “discriminate” even the right word to use – maybe mistaken would be more appropriate?

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning today, and one segment profiled the plight of older workers who are facing seriously lesser chances of ever finding a job. They reported on Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work’s newly released study¬†“The New Unemployables” on the issue that found unemployed older workers are less likely to find new employment than unemployed younger workers. Older workers were also involuntarily working part time because¬†they cannot find full-time employment. Others are becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labor force, believing they will not find new jobs.

I’m not alone in being turned down from even getting to interview because I’m “overqualified.” At the same time I want to give kudos to the rare prospective employer – one of which I spoke with just this week – who is up front about that fact but is willing to talk to me long enough to find out why I applied for the position.

So why do employers choose inexperience over experience? Is experience truly a bad thing? I don’t know about you, but when I have the chance to get an exceptional product at a bargain price, it’s a wonderful thing. Why doesn’t the same logic apply to hiring?

Or are employers conditioned to think that way and just haven’t stopped to consider whether they really want the headaches of training the inexperienced worker? Why not go for the worker who really can “hit the ground running”?




  1. It is a shame to be overlooked for a job because you are “overqualified.” Businesses need more qualified people with experience to get the job done right. A healthy mix of inexperienced and experienced employees makes a business run better and everyone benefits.

  2. I agree, but unfortunately, I don’t see employers following that thought. For some reason, employers aren’t interested in the talent bargains they can find out there these days.

  3. This is a real fear for me, as I am about to transfer to DePaul University as a 31-year-old PR/Advertising student after 12 years of active-duty service in the Marine Corps. I have 12 years of award-winning journalism/PR/media relations experience, but often wonder if I will be passed over in favor of the fresh-faced 22-year-old sorority/PR grad because of youth and perceived trainability.

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